Mr. Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development criticized “The Pulse”, an English news program of Radio Television Hong Kong, saying that the expression in interviewing officials of the World Health Organization violated the one-China principle and the “Charter of Radio Television Hong Kong “. HKJA deeply regrets Yau ’s remarks, which are equivalent to putting pressure on the media and directly intervening in the editorial autonomy of news organizations. If merely asking about the membership of WHO in Taiwan is also prohibited, then obviously the functions of journalists are being castrated, and so what happens to the freedom of the press in Hong Kong?
In an episode of The Pulse aired on Saturday, a reporter interviewed Bruce Aylward, the Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization. During the interview, the reporter asked whether WHO would reconsider Taiwan’s membership. Connection was suddenly interrupted. The reporter managed to contact Alward again, hoping that Alward would evaluate Taiwan ’s anti-epidemic performance. Alward replied that he observed different regions of China, and found that they were doing very well. The interview then ended.
The program did not explicitly point out or imply that Taiwan is a sovereign state, and did not violate the “One China Principle” as Yau pointed out. As mentioned in the press release of the Commerce and Industry Bureau, the Charter clearly stipulates the public purpose and mission of RTHK, including the provision of programmes to promote understanding of our community, our nation and the world. This is only one of the missions of RTHK. On the other hand, the Charter also states that RTHK is editorially independent, “be immune from commercial, political and or other influences.” If each program is only to promote national education, RTHK will lose its independence and innovative space.
Secretary Yau criticized the content of news programmes of RTHK, and pointed out that the Director of Broadcasting should be responsible, words which have a chilling effect and make the media self-censorship problem even worse. HKJA reiterates that freedom of speech and the press is the cornerstone of Hong Kong. We urge the government to stop putting pressure on the media and withdraw its inappropriate comments. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the outside world to believe that Hong Kong is still a free market economy entity.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
2 April 2020